Asi Gonia is a small mountain village located near Argiroupoli in the central part of Crete. There is a unique tradition of blessing sheep in this village. On April 23, Saint George's Day, local shepherds bring their herds from the mountains and lead them through the narrow streets of the village to the local church of Agios Georgios. After the blessing of the flock, the shepherds milk the sheep and then offer fresh milk to all the people gathered here. After the ceremony, the shepherds take the animals to the mountains, and the village feast continues until late in the evening.
The characteristic scent of sheep can be felt in the air, but the aroma of grilled souvlaki is also everywhere. On this day, Asia Gonia is visited not only by local residents, but also by tourists who know about this custom and are close to the town at that time.
This interesting tradition has been renewed this year after a two-year pandemic break. This tradition has survived for many centuries and now nobody knows when it was started. Although the inhabitants of Asia Gonia claim that the ceremony of blessing the sheep began in the first days of the foundation of this village. Until the coronavirus pandemic, it was unthinkable not to organize this annual ceremony. Most of the inhabitants of this village are pastoralists, and Saint George is considered the patron saint. Therefore, receiving a holy blessing is especially important for shepherds.
Photo source: zarpanews.gr